Free and cheap family fun this week
You don't need the luck of the Irish to rustle up some cheap thrills. For one, the weather has turned Gor.GEE.Ous. The beach is free. Barring that, here's some other ideas:
Like a green-tinted Gasparilla, the bead begging continues Saturday at the Rough Riders’ St. Patrick’s Day Night Parade to honor all things Irish and green. The parade starts at 8 p.m. on Seventh Avenue in Ybor City with about 90 floats, marching bands and dignitaries and various Gasparilla krewes tossing green beads and coins. About 20,000 to 30,000 people are expected to attend, making it the area’s largest St. Paddy’s Day party. It’s considered one of the tamer parades, attracting parents and their little leprechauns. The free event intentionally ends about 10 p.m., before the late-night bar crowd arrives.
At the Cajun Zydeco Crawfish Festival, St. Pete’s Vinoy Park will shed its starched preppiness for a voodoo and zydeco dance party where people will happily twist the heads off crustaceans suck out the meat to a Cajun beat. Les bon temps toulez (The good times roll) this weekend from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $35; 10 and under free. No pets, coolers or umbrellas, but it's very kid friendly.
Homeschooled children ages 5-11 can discover what pioneers did to welcome spring at the Heritage Village Race into Spring event today. Relay races to celebrate new plantings, cultivate the soil, build a birdhouse and more. 1-3 p.m. at the Heritage Village, 11909 125th St. N, Largo. $12, $10 children of PCHS members. (727) 582-2426.
Libraries have seen a surge in use lately and the Dunedin Public Library is no exception thanks to the free fun activities. This week they wrap up Teen Tech Week with a celebration of the hugely popular graphic novel Death Note. The event features games, Jeopardy-style questions and tons of candy based on characters in Death Note from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday (March 11). Next week, March 19, it's Extra Terrestrial Day aimed at aliens in books, movies and music starting at 6 p.m. and April 1 will be the first ever kids Scrabble tournament for ages 10 to 15. All events are free but you have to call (727) 298-3080 to register. Dunedin Public Library, 223 Douglas Ave.
In Charles Way’s offbeat production of Sleeping Beauty, the princess is no cream puff, a half-human dragon is a smart aleck and the prince is a regular guy. FreeFall Theatre opens the Celtic-flavored play this weekend in Tampa. The two-act play runs about 90 minutes, including intermission, and is suitable for all ages though. It opens Friday and runs through March 29 at the TECO Theater of Patel Conservatory at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Shows are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 and 6 p.m. Sunday. $18-$24 ($60 family four-pack for select performances). (813) 229-7827; tbpac.org.
If you've ever paid top dollar to eat eggs with a cartoon character, than you should appreciate the deal that is the Character Breakfast at Largo's Highland Recreation Complex on Saturday. Feast on a pancake/sausage breakfast, then set sail to Neverland for pictures and autographs with Captain Hook, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. Also, Peter Pan movies play while kids do make-and-take crafts. It's from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday at 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. $8 children ages 2-8 (all activities), $4 adults (breakfast only). (727) 518-3016.
Look, up in the sky. It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the Spa Beach Splash and Kite Festival. The marine discovery day and kite flying festival will have free kites for the first 300 kids under 12. Stunt flying demos all day and kite flying lessons at 10:30 a.m. The festival is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at Spa Beach, 615 Second Ave. NE (at the Pier approach), St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 895-7437, ext. 207.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne
[Photos: top right and center, Times files; bottom right, Associated Press]